Mating system variation in the hermaphroditic brooding coral, Seriatopora hystrix

C D H Sherman
Heredity 2008, 100 (3): 296-303
Self-compatible, hermaphroditic marine invertebrates have the potential to self-fertilize in the absence of mates or under sperm-limited conditions, and outcross when sperm is available from a variety of males. Hence, many hermaphroditic marine invertebrates may have evolved mixed-mating systems that involve facultative self-fertilization. Such mixed-mating strategies are well documented for plants but have rarely been investigated in animals. Here, I use allozyme markers to make estimates of selfing from population surveys of reef slope and reef flat sites, and contrast this with direct estimates of selfing from progeny-array analysis, for the brooding coral Seriatopora hystrix. Consistent heterozygote deficits previously reported for S. hystrix suggests that inbreeding (including the extreme of selfing) may be common in this species. I detected significant levels of inbreeding within populations (F(IS)=0.48) and small but significant differentiation among all sites (F(ST)=0.04). I detected no significant differentiation among habitats (F(HT)=0.009) though among site differentiation did occur within the reef slope habitat (F(SH)=0.06), but not within the reef flat habitat (F(SH)=0.015). My direct estimates of outcrossing for six colonies and their progeny from a single reef flat site revealed an intermediate value (t(m) (+/-s.d.)=0.53+/-0.20). Inbreeding coefficients calculated from progeny arrays (F(e)=0.31) were similar to indirect estimates based on adult genotype frequencies for that site (F(IS)=0.38). This study confirms that the mating system of this brooding coral is potentially variable, with both outcrossing and selfing.

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